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Emirati gets death sentence for joining jihadists

A court in Abu Dhabi on Sunday sentenced to death an Emirati convicted in absentia of having joined both the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, a newspaper reported.

The Federal Supreme Court of the United Arab Emirates also found Khalfan Sultan al-Suwaidi guilty of recruiting fighters for IS and the Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, Gulf News reported on its website.

Suwaidi, whose current whereabouts remain unknown, would be granted a retrial if he appears in court, based on UAE law, according to the daily.

The top court in the UAE also sentenced two other Emiratis, Fares Abdulaziz and Mohammed Awad, to seven years in prison each after convicting them of having joined “terror groups in Syria”.

A third defendant was handed a three-year prison sentence after being convicted on similar charges, the daily said.

In July, the UAE executed an Emirati woman for the jihadist-inspired murder of an American school teacher in a toilet of an Abu Dhabi shopping mall in late 2014.

Also on Sunday, the Abu Dhabi court jailed a Palestinian for three years for “insulting UAE leaders and promoting the terrorist ideology” of IS, Gulf News said.

The court will meanwhile announce its verdict in the trial of 41 people allegedly seeking to overthrow the government to set up an IS-style caliphate in the Gulf state on March 6, the daily added.

The UAE is part of the US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria since September.

It stepped up security measures since the wave of Arab Spring protests that swept the region in 2011.

Authorities have enacted tougher anti-terror legislation, including harsher jail terms and even introducing the death penalty for crimes linked to religious hatred and extremist groups.

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